Cuba vs USA
In the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba there is a glimmer of hope that one of the greatest political divisions of the 20th century could be coming to an end and, with it, the end of the Cold War creeps ever closer. For many the Cold War ended in 1989 with the collapse of the Berlin Wall or 1992 with the disintegration of the USSR, but in reality many of the conditions established during that time have continued to define the modern day political relations, most notably the US-Cuban relationship.
When the Communist revolution took hold of Cuba and Castro asserted his authority over the island state the battle lines in the Caribbean were drawn. The self-proclaimed defenders of Western democracy, America. now had to face a Communist state in the heartland of their sphere of influence, at a time when Communism was seen as the biggest threat to the integrity of the nation state. With support from the Soviet Union the Cuban state established itself as the antithesis of the the American system and a challenger that could destroy this system if it needed to (consider the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis). As a result of this a rift was created in the region; one that has barely healed on over 50 years.
The Americans are largely responsible for the continuation of this political rift. It responded to the threat on their borders with force (the Bay of Pigs failed invasion being the most famous example) and political intimidation. It also used its economic might to cut Cuba off from what would naturally be its largest trading partner, establishing an embargo that has hampered Cuba’s economic growth ever since its implementation. Families who managed to make the journey to Florida are divided by a travel ban that prevents the free movement of people between the two nations and with diplomatic relations suspended there has been little way for the two states to communicate.
However, with Obama’s declaration this week, that he wanted to open up the channels of diplomatic communication, there is a glimmer of hope that this division may be ending. There are plans to introduce ambassadors into each respective nation and there has been a mooted proposal to remove the trade embargo and open up Cuba for trade.
The healing process will have many obstacles to overcome. Many Cubans, both in Cuba and America have argued that the Cuban government has done nothing to deserve the relaxation of sanctions as its political hold over the country remains complete and their human rights record is still poor. Senior US politicians are planning to block any legislation that would normalise relations, but what has happened, is that the ice has been broken. There is now discussion on the future of US-Cuban relations, the way forward for both countries and few politicians will want to be seen as halting diplomatic progress out of spite. There must now be a universal commitment to healing the rift between the two nations, but arguments will continue over the time scale and the way in which this will be achieved.
The barriers that have separated these two ideological icons are slowly coming down brick by brick and, for the moment, it looks like one the most enduring legacies of the Cold War. and with it the war itself, is coming to end.